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Buni are oval-shaped, berry-like fruit that grow on trees of 15 to 30 meters in height. The fruit has a thin but tough outer skin, which is yellow-green when unripe. As the fruit matures, it turns red, then an attractive, blueish, violet color. Buni fruit berries grow to around 8 millimeters in diameter. They occur plentifully in pendant-shaped bunches, like grapes. Each berry ripens at a different time, making for spectacularly-colored clusters of fruit. When cut open, the inner flesh is pale. However, it leaves a purple stain on skin and fabric. The fruit can be acidic and tart, like a cranberry. When fully ripe, it is sweet. Each Buni berry contains a single, straw-colored, flat, hard seed.
Buni fruit are available year-round.
Buni fruit are botanically classified as Antidesma bunius. They are also known as Buah Buni or Boni in Indonesia, and as Bignay in the Philippines. In English, they may be referred to as Chinese Laurel fruit. Buni fruit are often foraged in the wild, or are found growing in trees in home gardens. They can sometimes be found in village markets, but are rarely found in larger cities. The ripe fruit is sweet, but a small percentage of people will perceive a bitter aftertaste. The Buni fruit tree is valued for its berries, but is also grown as an ornamental.
Buni fruit contain vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, phosphorus, iron, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. They are high in antioxidants and anthocyanin, which gives the fruit its purplish color. Studies have shown that Buni fruit may have a positive impact on blood glucose levels, and may possess anti-diabetic activities.
Buni fruit may be eaten raw. They also may be used in jams and juices, and are used to make wines and liquers. In Indonesia, they are used to make a sour sauce for fish dishes.
In traditional medicine practices in Indonesia and the Philippines, Buni fruit have been used to treat anemia and heart disorders. In India, the leaves have been used to treat snake bites.
Buni fruit are most commonly found growing wild in warm, humid parts of Indonesia and the Philippines. They are also found in parts of China, India, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia, as well as in northern Australia. They were introduced to Florida in the United States. The exact origin of Buni trees is unknown. Buni trees are cultivated specifically for their fruit in Indonesia and the Philippines, where they are thought to have been used for centuries.